I never saw myself working from home. I am a textbook extrovert. I need to be around people and I easily get drained if I spend too much time alone. I also thrive on structure and deadlines. I know many people envision working from home to mean yoga pants and non-cafeteria coffee and while those things are true, all I could see was infinite distractions, procrastination and loneliness.
My first work from home job did play out as I feared. I was always distracted. I wanted to run errands and do ANYTHING to get out of the house and be around people. I swore off working from home after that and then the Universe threw me a curve ball: My Dream Job.
When I was presented with the opportunity to manage In Gear Career, I couldn’t wait to get started. Then the reality sank in; I’d be working from home again. Granted, in the beginning stages, the social aspects of running an organization focused on networking had me meeting all the right people and working nonstop to learn the ins and outs of nonprofit work. The distractions of home and errands weren’t really a problem.
Then time passed. Most of the connections were now happening virtually and my previous distractions were returning in force. I worked at coffee shops, restaurants and even once at a park on the pier. All great things, but passive interaction with others just wasn’t enough.
Enter my partner-in-crime: Adrianna Domingos-Lupher (creator of this online magazine). I met her through a virtual connection, but soon figured out she was living literally down the street. We connected immediately both on a personal and professional level. We began getting together regularly to brainstorm projects and then eventually just to sit in the same room and work together.
Here’s what I realized: Co-Working Can Change THE World.
I already mentioned how important human interaction is to me. Even if that’s not your thing, I contend there are 3 basic benefits to co-working:
- Structure: Although Adrianna and I work for different organizations and are often working on very different projects; working in the same room gives some structure. I’m expected to work because she needs to work. Even if we’re working at my house, I’m not going to jump up and do laundry or sweep the floor. We need to foster an environment that’s conducive to professional work. Oh, and we remind each other to eat. I know it has happened to you; you get so entrenched in a project that the world fades away. That’s great, but eventually we all need to eat.
- Moral Support: When you have a tough phone call or are just completely stuck on a project, being able to talk to someone other than the dog is more than a bonus. It’s extremely comforting to know that you have someone in your corner and often is exactly the strength and motivation you need to not just throw in the towel for the day…or the week (no one is watching, right?)
- Brainstorming: This is the big one for me. The ability to instantaneously run an idea past a colleague is invaluable. Sure, you can contact someone virtually, but unless you’re on Skype or some other face-to-face vehicle, you can’t read their body language and you can’t guarantee you have their full attention. Adrianna and I are lucky that our professional lives overlap somewhat, but even when our projects take us down different paths, we very often have ideas to share with one another that help the other accomplish their goals.
So how can any of this change the world you ask?
Can you imagine the brainpower in a group of professional military spouses from different industries?!? Unstoppable.
Adrianna and I were lucky that the Universe set this up for us, but it doesn’t have to be an accident. Are there other military spouses at your installation who work from home? Ask on the spouse Facebook pages in your area, check around your FRG or better yet, find someone at an In Gear Career networking event in your area.
Already know someone? Suggest a co-work meetup! Maybe you work at one another’s houses, as we most often do or maybe you meet at a coffee shop or the place with the killer Greek salad. It doesn’t matter where you meet, just get together, support one another and brainstorm your way to success. Who knows, you may find a partner-in-crime like I did and you come up with the idea that changes the world. I know Adrianna and I are working on it every chance we get.